Atlético in danger in Champions League after losing to Milan

·2 min read

MADRID (AP) — Atlético Madrid conceded a late goal Wednesday in a 1-0 home loss to AC Milan that left the Spanish club in danger of being eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League.

Junior Messias, making his Champions League debut, scored in the 87th minute to give Milan the victory and keep alive the chances of the Italian club advancing after a winless start to its campaign in the European competition.

The result left Atlético and Milan tied on four points in the last two positions of Group B, with Atlético in last place on goal difference. Porto was a point ahead after a 2-0 loss at group-winner Liverpool.

Milan needed the victory to avoid elimination. It had won only one of its last 11 Champions League games and once in its last seven road games in the competition from group stage to final.

Atlético was coming off consecutive losses to Liverpool and had to avoid defeat against Milan to stay in contention to reach the round of 16 without having to depend on other results.

Atlético had won three in a row against Milan in the Champions League, including 2-1 in Italy in their first match this season.

Atlético had lost only twice in its last 31 European games at home.

The Spanish club has advanced to the last 16 in nine of its last 11 group-stage appearances, reaching the quarterfinals or better in five of its last eight campaigns. It was eliminated by eventual champion Chelsea in the first knockout round last season.

Atlético has won only two of its last 11 Champions League matches, failing to score in four of its last seven games in the competition.

Milan advanced past the group stage in its last 11 Champions League campaigns, with five of the last six ending in the round of 16. It was Atlético that halted Milan’s previous appearance in the last 16 in the 2013-14 season.

Atlético coach Diego Simeone was able to count on Antoine Griezmann after UEFA reduced the player’s suspension for a red card against Liverpool from two games to one. He had already served the first game of the suspension. Defender Felipe didn’t play because of his red card suspension.

Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who came off the bench in the 66th, remained two goals away from scoring his 50th Champions League goal from group stage to final. He scored his first more than 19 years ago.

If he scored once he would have surpassed former Roma striker Francesco Totti as the oldest player to find the net in the Champions League at the age of 40 years, one month and three weeks.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press

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